Monday, May 16, 2016

‘Zoolander 2’ and ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’ are Needless, Unimaginative Comedy Sequels

Zoolander 2 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 are sequels to two of the best comedy films I watched in the early 2000’s.  Coincidentally, it took until 2016, more than a decade later, for both of them to follow up on their respective predecessors.  Now, the unwritten axiom about sequels is that the longer the span between the original movie and the sequel, the more required it is for the latter to have something fresh and better to offer (that’s why there’s a lot of expectations for Avatar 2).  Hence, I was curious if it’s necessary to get these two movies made after all these years.  And after watching these movies back to back (thus, I’m reviewing these in one post), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that neither of these sequels is good enough to justify its existence.

Let’s start with Zoolander 2 (which was also the first one I watched): It follows Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) attempting a comeback after taking a lengthy hiatus from the fashion world. But their path back to global prominence is interrupted when Fashion Interpol agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) solicits their assistance in figuring out the truth behind the enigmatic assassinations of several pop stars. Derek is unwilling at first, but Valentina convinces him by offering to find his estranged son (Cyrus Arnold) in exchange for his cooperation.

This movie is thoroughly deficient of substance, and miserably attempts to make up for this by packing itself with celebrity cameos.  Though the plot is more ridiculous than the first one, it’s significantly less clever – thus, the narrative is boring and stupid, and the humor is just plain stale.  Most of the jokes are lame and tiresomely outdated, as it rehashes many of the hit gags of the original.  There are moments that are so dumb and ridiculous that I just had to slightly smirk in amusement.   But any drop of comedy in it is not worth watching the movie over.   The only time I actually laughed was when Benedict Cumberbatch made his cameo, who startled me by looking so shockingly outrageous.
Meanwhile, My Big Fat Wedding 2 is set several years after the epilogue of the first movie that showed six years after the wedding of Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett).  In this sequel, their now teenage daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), feels that she’s being suffocated and driven mad by the Portokalos clan’s extreme closeness and adherence to Greek tradition.  As both mother and daughter struggle with the burdens of being part of such family, it becomes more complicated due to a shocking revelation: the wedding of Toula’s parents fifty years ago is discovered to be invalid.  Thus, the entire clan find itself preparing for a bigger and crazier wedding than before.

It’s not as terrible as Zoolander 2, but it’s as disorderly and creatively bankrupt.  While the original is a delight, this sequel is just annoyingly clichéd.  At least, it’s heartwarming and charming, albeit not nearly as much as the original, and there are gags that I genuinely laughed at.  However, as a whole, it’s a moderately entertaining, mediocre movie at best.

Zoolander 2 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 are pretty much underwhelming sequels.  They offer nothing of great worth, and it would have been preferable if they were never made in the first place.

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